Second City and Steven Wright in Durham
Live performances at the Carolina Theatre are supported in part by the North Carolina Arts Council, an agency funded by the state of North Carolina, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the A.J. Fletcher Performing Arts Fund of the Triangle Community Foundation.
This year, The North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival, in partnership with The Carolina Theater, is thrilled to present Steven Wright and The Second City Touring Company.
Steven Wright began his career at the age of 23 and has been working ever since. Labelled a “prototype” - his work and path to success have been followed by many fledgling comedians in the years following. His past credits include appearances on Late Night with David Letterman, Saturday Night Live, and a rare two week consecutive appearances on The Tonight Show with then host Johnny Carson.
The name ‘Second City’ is synonymous with comedy. Originating in Old Town Chicago - The Second City was the first ever ongoing improv theater in the United States. Over the last 50 years it has become an iconic place of study- expanding into The Second City Training Center, and can be found in the history of countless celebrities and comedians in pop culture today. Seeing a Second City stage show offers a combination of the best improvisation and sketch comedy writing on any continent.
Both of these shows are steeped in comedy history- carrying forward a certain comedy heritage. It’s only fitting that they play The Carolina Theater- a vintage building, preserved itself (and recently remodeled) as it moves forward for future generations to enjoy.
Fletcher Hall is the main stage of the Carolina, seating 1,014 with two balconies. This grand stage hosts distinguished speakers, dance, music of all varieties, and most importantly to us - comedy.
Shun Man Woh- WHOA
Cerebral, yeah- we’ll go with cerebral. That’s the lazy description behind the astounding piece of theater put together by DSI company veteran Kit FitzSimons. His one man sketch show Shun Man Woh brings to the table many of the highly specific skills that only Kit himself could put together. Chugging Redbull, enormous feats of physical exertion, and what has been described by many people as “a rubber face,” Kit creates 30 minutes of comedy without one single (LIVE) word spoken.
For the past eight years Kit has occasionally performed under the title Shun Man Woh - a spoonerism of “One Man Show” for all of his one man sketches. Over time the name had been relegated to the title for the ‘Sketch Ideas’ file on his laptop. The inspiration for a revival of Shun Man Woh came when DSI Comedy announced that it would be holding a Sketch Cagematch in late 2012.
Why no words though? “I’d been listening to a lot of music recently, and I had a couple ideas for sketches that didn’t require any words… the show format sort of spiraled out from there,” says FitzSimons. Having repeatedly worked up an idea into a sketch or monologue, only to find that it still seemed less fun than anything he had thought of for his music inspired sketches, Kit went about combing his playlists and collecting songs to create his personal soundtrack.
Finding that past sketch shows had best flowed when they found a unifying theme- the current Shun Man Woh came together when he found his theme of sketches where he didn’t speak. “Every new idea was an exciting discovery, like snapping together another couple pieces of an enormous jigsaw,” FitzSimons shares. The future is bright - Kit is always looking to do more, to expand and include more in his work.
- Contributed by Kate Harlow
Harry Potter Open Mic?
Open Mic Night at the Great Hall started as a single Harry Potter-based sketch by the Boston sketch group Daft Agenda (NCCAF 2012) and quickly became the show I most passionately want to see at this year’s NCCAF. Stacy Thornton takes on the persona of Drusylla Moonstone, a fourth-year Hogwarts student from Slytherin house performing at the Great Hall’s open mic. She draws on both the books and movies to create her one-woman sketch show, complete with poetry, open letters, and Drusylla’s pointed jabs at your favorite Hogwarts students. Stacy, on obsessing over specifics in the Potter world and the origins of the show:
“I wanted to try something snarkier that was strictly Slytherin-centric and then I gave the character more of a backstory. There’s SO much that I love about the Harry Potter universe but I tend to get really attached to certain characters…I think there’s a lot of room for well-intentioned humor there. It’s ALL because I’m a fan, not because I’m making fun of it…A lot of it is based on how I actually feel about things in the series, but I amp it up to an obsessive (and hopefully disturbing) degree.”
When you think about it, it makes tons of sense. Of course a castle full of robe-wearing teenagers would have an open forum for artistic expression. Of course members of Slytherin house would have drawers full of letters, poems, and three-chord songs just brimming with ire and teenage anxiety.
I’m just glad we finally get to see it.
Stacy performs Open Mic Night at the Great Hall at DSI Comedy Theater Thursday, 2/7 @ 7:00 pm and Saturday, 2/9 @ 10:30 pm
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— Contribute by Joe Dawson
When the Boat rocks you.
“Smart. Irreverent. Fast. Hilarious.”
Boat is the Brooklyn, NY-based sketch trio made up of Amos Vernon, Mike Lane, and Nunzio Randazzo. The three met when they were attending different colleges in California and formed Boat when they independently moved to New York to pursue their comedy dreams. All are performers at the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York, and Vernon is a contributing writer for the Onion.
Weekly NYC audiences and NCCAF crowds for the past three years have enjoyed sketches from Boat. Boat shows feature “solid acting, sharp writing, and polished sketches that continually defy expectation. A Boat show is like trying to get in front of a runaway freight train. We’ll rip the laughs from your stomach whether you like it or not,” according to the men in white.
Since joining forces more than three years ago, these stellar sketchmakers have been official selections at such festivals as Chicago Sketchfest, New York City Sketch Festival, San Francisco Sketchfest, and our very own North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival. The three appear this year at the NC Comedy Arts Festival for the fourth time. What are the gentlemen of Boat excited about at NCCAF this year?
“Fun crowds! Time Out! The Station!”
Boat performs at DSI on Friday 2/8 and The ArtsCenter on Saturday 2/9.
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— Contributed by Joe Dawson